The NSW government has announced $244m in funds to try to combat the “crisis” in social housing and homelessness plaguing the state.
“The priorities of the new New South Wales government could not be clearer: we are for housing,” Rose Jackson, Minister for Housing, said at a press conference on Saturday.
“We are for building more housing in this state, quality homes for people to live in. That’s overall supply but it’s also particularly a commitment to social and affordable housing,” she added.
Premier Chris Minns told reporters the money would form his government’s Essential Housing Package, to be delivered as part of next week’s budget.
Those with a mental condition or who were homeless would be targeted for extra support, the Premier said.
A key part of the strategy will be to reinvest in and restore existing buildings which have fallen into disrepair.
“If you look across New South Wales there are many dilapidated social housing sites right across the state that have fallen into disrepair and the previous (Liberal) government had attempted to sell,” the Premier said.
“When you’ve got a social housing waiting list of over 50,000, the highest ever recorded and we have an admitted social housing crisis in New South Wales right across the state, you need to invest in the stock that you already have.”
The reforms were an “essential first step” on the way to combating homelessness and resolving the social housing crisis, according to the Premier, who also called for more high-rise apartment buildings to be built to accommodate skyrocketing demand.
Social housing issues are far from unique to New South Wales.
Almost 200,000 people are on social housing waitlists around the country, and that figure is increasing every year, according to data from state government websites.
Australians desperate for a home can expect to wait on average more than two years, with wait times for more in-demand areas in excess of five and even 10 years.
With housing problems most severe in New South Wales, Premier Minns acknowledged his state was losing out as people flocked to other areas of the country in search of a home.
“The type of people that are leaving, often young couples that are moving to Queensland or Victoria, we want those people to stay in New South Wales,” he said.
“Their productive capabilities, their enthusiasm, their impact on the New South Wales economy, we want them to start families, join communities and grow businesses right here in New South Wales.”
“That’s only going to happen if we can begin to confront the housing crisis in the state.”